HISTORIA DE LA LUZ, FURLAND
Terricolas Imbeciles, Mexico ****
by Andrew Casillas
Hype. As much as music fans disdain blind allegiance to this term, we’ve all resigned ourselves to the fact that this concept is not only an inherent part of today’s pop landscape but, indeed, one of its most important factors. And the only thing worse than blind hype is when hype mixes with pedigree. And that’s where Furland comes in. They aren’t just the latest group to emerge from Mexico’s indie power wave; they’re also Emmanuel Del Real’s latest protégées. And considering that Del Real’s track record over the last half-decade (see: Natalia Lafourcade, Austin TV, Ely Guerra, along with Café Tacuba’s last two records) has made him the most artistically legitimate Latin music producer since Gustavo Santaolalla, it’s natural to assume that Furland’s record would be a debut of enigmatic importance, right?
Well, not exactly. Furland’s latest, Historia de la Luz, is mostly a neat little pastiche of some of the decade’s most illustrious Latin indie voices. That being said, it’s also freaking fantastic. The album opener, the appropriately titled “Colores Colores Colores” may sound a bit close to Anoche-era Babasónicos, but there’s enough ear candy (filled with deft electronics, piano slamming, and “doo doo doo’s”) here to make you forgive any musical similarities. The next track, “La Luna Mas Lejana,” is a slow-burning rocker that’d make Chetes proud, while “Quiero Ser un Color” is a California sunny pop-romper, filled with delectable harmonies and a wicked George Harrison-style guitar solo.
The middle part of the album makes it clear that Furland has spent a lot of time analyzing John Lennon’s late period contributions to the Beatles, particularly on “Las Lunas, Las Estrellas...,” which juxtaposes a light and giddy banjo lick with some of the more heavy-handed lyrics on the album, and if you don’t get the allusion there, it’s time you reacquainted yourself with the White Album. This song is followed by the keyboard heavy rocker, “...y Demas Criaturas Del Pantano,” which sounds like one of the interludes off of Merriweather Post Pavilion, but with a more linear melody.
In the above paragraph, I just compared this album’s middle section to one of the greatest albums of all-time and the most revered album of this past year, respectively. However, that’s not to say that any of these songs are in the same class as those other works. In truth, those references are meant to illustrate how tenuous Furland’s melodies can get, which is a dangerous path for a young band, and a potential album killer, if it weren’t for the three-song combo that closes the record. There’s the spacey “Bip Trip,” which is likely to be the most divisive track on this album; too soft and flimsy for some listeners, but the right emotional weight for others. What’s important is that the band finally makes a challenging stance to its audience at this point. And if you’re not in love with that song, you get “Una Brevisima Eternidad” right afterwards, which is the most epic, singular, and probably best song on the album. A grandiose mixture of strings, pop/rock strumming, and off-kilter keyboards, this is where Del Real’s expert production shines brightest, reaching a complete equilibrium with the talents of his devotees. Then there’s the closer, “Astrorey (Rey Astronauta),” a pounding slab of indie pop that comes off like the joyful B-side that the Bends-era Radiohead never made. In short, it sounds like what Coldplay should sound like in theory, which is pretty impressive really.
Historia de la Luz is framed by the themes of space and color, two concepts of ever-evolving expansion and interpretation. In a way, it says a lot about Furland the band. This is a group keenly aware of their talents, and what they want their music to say, but they’ve yet to reach their moment of true inspiration and potential. They linger there, like an opaque color or an anonymous piece of the cosmos, never lacking in distinction, but never really quickly revealing themselves either. But there’s still plenty to admire nevertheless, and they will eventually become something beautiful and unique. Furland has the promise to become one of the leading lights of the Latin indie scene over the next decade, and Historia de la Luz could well be their first step towards greatness, even if they have to settle for merely “great” for the time being.